Friday, October 23, 2015

Confusingly similar words in Finnish

Here are some words that are annoyingly similar, especially if you're taking a certain exam and there is a risk that you will spend all your time talking about a wrong topic. I'll keep adding to this list as I notice more words that might be confusing.

  • Aika is time. The genitive of aika is ajan, which is also the first person conjugation of ajaa, to drive.
  • Eläin is an animal. Elämä is life.
  • Kotitehtävä is homework. Kotityö is a chore such as cleaning or washing the dishes. 
  • Kylä is a village, but it's also used in the expression käydä kylässä, to visit someone.
  • Leikata is to cut. Leikkiä is to play as a child. 
  • Liha is meat, lihava is fat, lihas is a muscle, and lihaksikas is muscular. 
  • Liikenne is traffic. Liike is a movement or a store or a shop. Liikunta is sports.
  • Luonto is nature. Luento is a lecture. Luonne is a personality, a temperament.
  • Menestys is a success. Menetys is a loss.
  • Menestyä is to succeed. Menehtyä is to die. 
  • Myrsky is a strom. Myrkky is poison. 
  • Ohjelma is a programme. Ongelma is a problem.
  • Patient is either a noun potilas or an adjective kärsivällinen.
  • Rukata is to fix a little bit. Runkata is to masturbate.  In newspapers, rukata is often in the past tense rukkasi, and it really makes you want to read the text twice. 
  • Valita is to choose. Valittaa is to complain. Välittää is to care or to pass on. 
  • Varata is to book or to reserve. Varastaa is to steal. Verrata is to compare.
  • Viallinen is faulty. Virallinen is official. Vaarallinen is dangerous. 

About the author of this Random Finnish lesson: 

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. Please read more in and follow this blog, if you want to be the first one to know when I post something new. 


Anonymous said...

Minulla on seurava ehdotus: Välittää, Vallita, Valita ja Valitta

Anonymous said...

Vaikuttaa (to seem/influence/affect) ja vakuuttaa (to assert/convince/reassure)!

Anonymous said...

Niinpa... tyttöystäväni vielä nauraa kun muistaa minun "olen paholainen" :)

bsb said...

I always have to think about words beginning with 'yksi-' like yksinäinen (lonely), yksityinen (private).

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Tästä voi olla apua: http://

Çağrı Yalgın said...

I once mixed ongelma with ohjelma!

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Kiitos, lisäsin nuo sanat listaan.

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Yes, that is a classic.:)

idle said...

I keep confusing jäädä, jättää and jatkaa.

Unknown said...

I always trip over vaille and vielä

Nicholas said...

Personal favourite,

Tapaan hänet = I'll greet him

Tapan hänet = I'll kill him

Finnish vowel length, a matter of life and death!

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

and "vaikeuttaa", to make something more difficult! :)

Random Finnish Lesson / Hanna Männikkölahti said...

Yes, how could I forget that one from this list! Now it's updated.:)

Anonymous said...

Myös "välttää"

Anonymous said...

kuulua and kuulla are common ones that I mix up all the time.